Monday, November 16, 2009

Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith

I've read and reviewed many McCall Smith books, most of which have been mysteries. I am always charmed by them. How can he produced three or four books per year? I sometimes get behind in my reading. Spurred by seeing Botswana: In The Footsteps of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective with Alexander McCall Smith, I've finally gotten to Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, the tenth book in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Series.

First, a few words about Botswana: In The Footsteps of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective with Alexander McCall Smith, a 54-minute documentary that looks at the setting for the author's most successful mystery series. Botswana is a place of beautiful light, both literally and figuratively. There is sunshine most of the year, making it a great place to travel to see striking landscapes and great wildlife. McCall Smith, however, focuses on the people, who are struggling to join the modern world and mostly succeeding. The author shows us children, teachers, waitresses, bankers, diamond mine workers, conservationists, and other people, black and white, who live in the cities and villages of Botswana - just the people who populate his books. He hopes that they can be guides for the development of all of Africa.

In Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, Mma Ramotswe has a new kind of mystery to solve: why does the local football team keep losing games? The owner suspects a traitor on the team. Here is how the owner presents the situation:

"This problem," he went on, "hurts me here. Right here - in my heart."

Mma Ramotswe inclined her head gravely. Everybody who consulted her was, in their way, hurting - even this rich man with his big Mercedes-Benz and his expensive cuff-links. Human hurt was like lightning; it did not choose its targets, but struck, with rough equality and little regard to position, achievement, or moral desert.

Mma knows very little about football and has to turn to her stepson for help. To complicate matters, her beloved white van fails her, and Mma Makutsi worries that her fiancee is about to be stolen by her arch enemy Violet Sephotho. With grace and patience, she resolves all the problems.

Libraries have to have McCall Smith books, and I have to read them all.

McCall Smith, Alexander. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built. Pantheon Books, 2009. ISBN 9780375424496

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